Sunday, November 25, 2007

Love Thanksgiving

I think Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Thanksgiving I spend with all my siblings and Christmas with Husband's family. Chinese New Year is nice too because that's when my parents visit. But with Sister in DC, Brother Two in NYC and Brother One here with me in Atlanta, it's not too often that all of us are together.

So Thanksgiving is it. Wednesday we went to Maggiano's for dinner and ate much too much. Sister wore the cardigan I made her. Clearly she likes it very much. Here she's holding the hat I made her boyfriend. Both items made from Manos del Uruguay in Eclipse (sweater) and Adobe (hat) on size 10 US needles.
Thursday we ate much too much as well (ham from Honey-Baked Ham, grilled chicken breast, grilled Italian sausage, mashed potatoes, wild rice and white rice, asparagus, and green beans).
Friday morning Sister and her boyfriend got up early and by 6am were at Home Depot. Sister's Boyfriend had his eye on some items and when they went on sale, he was there to snap them up. Then they went to Kohl's where Sister picked up cashmere sweaters, originally $90 for less than $40. By the time the rest of us got up, they were back, and back in bed. But there were up in time for us to go to the Atlanta Zoo.

I had never been there and it was sunny (see: historic drought) and cold. Sister's Boyfriend wore his new hat, I wore a hand knit beret and wore my yellow Argosy scarf in Malabrigo. Mmmmmm, Malabrigo.....
We saw the pandas, which Husband thought were the most overrated animal and Brother One or Two thought was just alright. Here's a picture:

My favorite part was the owl, leashed by the leg. We happened upon a zoo keeper giving a talk about owls. The owl must have been happy to be out of the cage but it also tried flying away once or twice, and would sit there making soft squawking noises.

Then here's a picture of the same kind of owls in their cages:

This bird, a cassowary or something, was kind of freaky. It's at least 4 feet tall if not taller and look at that beak. Good thing there's a fence between me and it.

Sister wanted a hat like her boyfriend's (Ela's Favorite Hat, from One Skein Wonders, the original, not the designer edition). So using some of the leftover yarn from her sweater, I cast on another hat before leaving for the zoo at about noon. Her boyfriend drove, while I knitted. I knitted at the zoo, even in the cold. I took a break for dinner, then knit while playing Scrabble and mah-jong, and at about 1:30am, finished. Brother One was amazed. Here it is in the florescent lighting of our den on the couch.

Here's a picture of Sister and her Boyfriend Saturday morning in their matching hats, wearing sweatshirts they borrowed from me. Why yes, I did go to the University of Wisconsin.

I'm loving the yarn and pattern so much I'm making one for me. But slower.

All six of us then signed a birthday card for Ba, our father. Sister's Boyfriend didn't think he should sign it, but why not? It'll make Ba happy to know that Sister's still got a boyfriend. Ba's really concerned that she's "on the wrong side of 35" and not married. It's kind of a sore point with Sister.

Ba's a huge Gone with the Wind fan, like many Taiwanese of his generation. A few weeks ago, Rhett Butler's People was published and Brother One went to a book signing and the author, Donald McCaig, personalized for Ba. So cool.

Another reason I love Thanksgiving with my family, is that's the only time I get to play mah-jong. We did a lot of that on Thursday and Friday, and even squeezed in three games Saturday morning before we had to leave to take Sister and her boyfriend to the airport. And I won all three of those games. Ha ha!

Husband and Sister's Boyfriend don't know how to play mah-jong, plus it's a four person game, so it was me, Sister, and Brothers One and Two. Just like when we were growing up.

There was also much Scrabble playing. Brother Two is a member of Mensa, so he made sure to come up with the best words. Like armoire. At one point I'm staring at my tiles trying to figure out what word I could make. Brother Two shifted them around and revealed select. I was impressed. It turns out that neither Husband or Sister's Boyfriend knew how to play Scrabble. I find that rather surprising. Fortunately it's an easy game to learn and they're pretty smart people.

Saturday night, when it was me, Husband, and Brothers One and Two, it was euchre and Jameson whiskey time! Euchre is a 4 person game that's essentially a shortened form of bridge. Ba taught Brothers One and Two how to play bridge and Brother One suggested that we learn. But why when euchre's fun and fast? It does involve trump cards and I always have to write down which suite is trump. Other wise I have to keep asking and people tend to get annoyed.

Today it's Sunday and silent. Growing up in a family of six, it was normal to have people around all the time. But we haven't lived together in a long, long time. Now that they're all gone and Husband's at the office, I'm in the house by myself and things are back to normal. And our eating and drinking will have to go back to normal too.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yesterday my clan arrived and are staying with Husband and me: Sister and Sister's Boyfriend, Brother One, and Brother Two. We all went to Maggiano's for dinner and over ordered their family-style dinner. But not to worry, if there's anything my family does, it's eat and play games: boccie, cards, mah-jong, Scrabble. So leftovers are wonderful, as is the opportunity to sit together with family.

I also finished Sister's Easy Top-Down Raglan Cardigan, using CosmicPluto's pattern, in Manos del Uruguay yarn in Eclipse. It fits Sister, she likes it, and she wore it out to dinner. Success at last!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Refugee Music Videos

This week I saw these two videos back to back: "Sweetest Girl" by Wyclef Jean, Akon, Lil' Wayne, and Niia; and "I'm Like A Lawyer With The Way I'm Always Trying To Get You Off (Me & You)" by Fall Out Boy.

There are several things remarkable about this. First, that MTV and VH1 still play music videos, but only in the mornings before work. Some people watch the morning news, I watch the morning music videos on MTV and VH1 or the Alex Andersson quilting show on HGTV.

Anyway, both of these videos involve refugees, which I think doesn't get as much attention as it deserves.

"Sweetest Girl" ( is set in a immigration deportation camp. Wyclef Jean used to be in a band call the Fugees, short for Haitian refugees, with Lauren Hill. So he (presumably) knows something about refugees.

The Fall Out Boy video for "Me and You" ( I think is more remarkable because it tells the story of children in Northern Uganda who have been abducted and turned into child soldiers. They also provide a link to

The video is great and it makes the title of the song "I'm Like A Lawyer With The Way I'm Always Trying To Get You Off (Me & You)" even weirder.


This week, at work, we conducted a national training for about 15 women from 7 or 8 different states, representing 9 or 10 different ethnic groups. We went pretty much non-stop from 9am to 5pm. Some evenings we did workshops too. And the other nights we didn't have workshops, I took some people out on the town.

As usual we went to Auburn Avenue and drove by the old Ebenezer Baptist Church where Martin Luther King Jr preached, the new Ebenezer Baptist Church across the street, the two MLK centers next to the churches, his and Coretta Scott King's burial memorial, his birth home, and so on through the historic preservation district, down to Studioplex at the end of the street. Studioplex is a converted warehouse (at least it looks like a converted warehouse) with artists shops and work studios on the first floor and apartments above. Even though we're driving through at 8pm when everything's closed, it's still a cool thing to do.

This I did twice this week and another staff did once.

I also took people to Centennial Olympic Park downtown, near the CNN headquarters, the Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coca-Cola (one gigantic advertisement for the drink that built Atlanta), and Imagine It! children's museum. The ice skating rink is up and going at Centennial Olympic Park, and the Christmas lights are up too.

All in all, it was a great training. It makes all the stress, even with Complaining Employee, worthwhile.

And now, I am tired.

But no sleep for me. I have to clean the house for Thanksgiving. Sister, Sister's Boyfriend, Brother One and Brother Two are all coming over. Since they're siblings, and younger siblings at that, I figure as long as there are clean sheets and towels for them and cat hair is kept to a minimum, we're okay. But Husband has higher standards than that so there's more work to be done.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Watching self on TV is weird

Just saw the video of my interview on local TV. I think I did well and the message was uplifting and empowering.

But as I watched it, I thought "Do I really look like that?" "The camera really does add 10 pounds (and double chins)" "My face is so wide, and flat, and shiny" and "Do I really sound like that?"

Now, I generally have a very healthy self-esteem, but seeing myself on TV, I fixated on how I didn't like how I looked, instead of thinking "Damn right I do good work!"

After dinner, through the magic of the internet, I went back to the news station's website and watched the video again. It was still weird, but the shock wore off enough for me to watch for the message.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Vet + bath = unhappy cat

Husband took Moises to the vet today for checkup and shots. The cat was doing okay until he had to wait in the waiting room with 4 dogs, including a Rottweiler. Then Moises peed himself in carrier.

So he's now drugged up and bathed. A wet, bedraggled cat is a pathetic sight.

At least the heat is on and he can lay in the sun and heating vent until dry. Then he will probably avoid us for the rest of the day.

Little does he know, there's still a pill coming, yet to be forced down his throat.

Gosh, I don't know why he hates seeing the carrier every time.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Got interviewed for local news station

Yesterday, I was video interviewed by Brenda Wood, for her "Good People" segment on the local news on Monday nights. I think it went pretty well and I think it was pretty clear that I'm a social justice activist. I'm a little apprehensive about how it will be edited and shown.

There was one point where she asked me what I get out of the work and I was surprised at how emotional I got at that question! I said I get a lot out of working with the refugee and immigrant women. It's great to see how our work with them allows them to move forward with their lives, empowers them to become community leaders, to open their own businesses, etc.

Later, she came back and asked me why I got so emotional. I mentioned growing up in the US being the only Asian in the neighborhood and not being accepted by Americans and then living in Taiwan and not being accepted as Chinese. The unfairness of being rejected and discriminated against for aspects of my identity that I can't change is what fuels my activities with regard to social justice.

But I don't think about that very much. I mentioned that it's important to acknowledge the past because it informs who you are. But if you focus too much on the past, you can't move forward. And certainly the rest of the world is moving forward, with or without you.

She asked if I would volunteer with my organization even if I wasn't paid. First I asked if it was still as executive director. When she said not, then I said yes (paying bills, doing payroll, having to deal with staffing issues, and all the administrative stuff is not what I want to volunteer for, as important as it is) and described my tree of life as a crape myrtle tree, with the multiple trunks representing the different pillars of my life -- social activism, art, and family. The trunks come from the same roots, the branches of each trunk are intertwined, and all work together to sustain and grow the tree. (Deep, isn't it? Sometimes I got it in me.) So I would still volunteer and be active because it's something I believe in.

Then she asked me about my art. I mentioned my knitting and pottery and she just loved the metaphor of my molding the clay like my work molds the women my organization works with. I said I can certainly take credit for bending the clay to my will, but my influence over other people is definitely not as extensive! I prefer the metaphor of the quilt, where you take pieces of different fabrics and sew them together to create a new fabric that is beautiful and useful.

She asked about my pottery and I mentioned how you have to really concentrate on centering the clay, and you can't be thinking other other things because then the clay will fly off the wheel or fall in on itself. It's like meditation, it clears the mind, but unlike meditation, you have an object at the end that you can share with other people. I guess you could share the serenity you get from meditation, but I still prefer giving pottery. She asked if I sell the pottery or give it away. I most definitely just give it away and I joked how my family is pretty tired of getting pottery from me.

But that may actually just be my husband. Most other people are pretty impressed when they find out that I made it myself. I think in such a consumerist society, we have become removed from the actual creation of things and when we are exposed to it again, we are impressed. I didn't go off on that consumerist jag in the interview.

She loved the molding clay metaphor anyway and said they might come to my pottery class to film me actually throwing a pot. In the end that didn't happen.

So how did she find me to want to interview me? A few weeks ago, I was honored by a girl-serving organization for my work with women and girls, and Brenda Wood was the MC for the event. She read my introduction (which I did not write), which talked about my work on women's issues, refugee issues, nationally and locally, etc. It was a lot just in the last 4 years, since I've been executive director of this organization and I felt pretty tired after hearing all that. I don't try to do all those things all at once and so I guess I hadn't thought about it cumulatively.

Plus, I'm usually looking forward, not backward. I mean I do try to reflect on past experiences, but mostly in order to apply lessons learned to future activities. Moving on!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Another's (better) report on Kaffe Fasset's talk, with pictures

Kay, at Mason Dixon Knitting (link at right) posted today about KF's talk. She has pictures and more detail. The post is called Instinct Is a Good Designer (and So Is This Guy).

And by the way, Kaffe and Brandon both wore the same tops in her pictures as in Atlanta.
One thing I would add is that KF talked about loving color and pattern. The colors really sing because of their juxtaposition in a pattern.

So even if his shirt is rather subdued, each hexagon encloses a different print.

Kay also mentioned his attitude toward perfectionism. Me myself, not so into perfectionism. Perfection is impossible anyway.

According to Kay, he said that you can't really see the effect of your color and design choices at the row level, or the swatch level, or even the halfway-there level. You have to be willing to wait for the whole effect. If you work quickly, instinct starts to kick in, and "instinct is a good designer".

Personally, I don't remember him saying that particular piece, but then my memory is awful. Husband will say "do you remember XYZ?" and I won't, even if I was there or actually said or did it myself.

Anyway, this is only strengthening my desire to knit a Kaffe Fassett patterned Rectangle of Malabrigo (with maybe some Cascade 220, Manos del Uruguay, and other random skeins).

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Kaffe Fassett, the freaky power of blogs, and the Rectangle of Malabrigo

A few weeks ago, I went to see Kaffe Fassett speak. It was a quilting event but KF's talk was about color and he had slides of his knitting, mosaics, quilts, needlepoint, everything.

When I got there the first person I saw was Brandon Mably and I just went up to him and introduced myself (like he had any idea who I was). I mentioned that I read Franklin Habit's post about the knitting workshop BM did and how it just opened Franklin's eyes to color.

BM didn't quite remember who Franklin was (as if I know who FH is -- ah, the power of blogs that make you think you know complete strangers), but when I mentioned Chicago and the Franklin's 1000 knitters photo project, he remembered. He said that he doesn't always know how effective he's been, so it's nice to hear this kind of feedback.

I think this was also a freaky example of the power of blogging. I told him that Franklin's blog post made me want to take his workshop, if he ever comes back to Atlanta.

Then I posted all of the above on FH's post on BM, just to complete the circle.

So, it's now November, I've brought in the house plants and turned on the heat at home. I'm still working on Sister's Top-down Raglan Cardigan in Manos del Uruguay in Eclipse, using Cosmic Pluto's pattern. Love the Manos! I love the way they dye the yarn different colors like ever two inches. The colors are so deep and vibrant. One day Husband and I went to the Silver Comet Trail to exercise. I was in the throes of work stress and didn't walk as long as I usually do, so I got back to the car before Husband. Pulled out the Top-down Raglan Cardigan and sat on the bench and knit, reveling in the gorgeous colors.

The body is too loose and short, so I'll have to rip back and re-knit. But with a yarn this beautiful, it's no hardship.

And I'm still carting around Brother-in-Law's vest, in KnitPicks superwash worsted, in the color Truffle. Which is a mid-brown with a hint of grey. Not inspiring at all, but it's for a guy. No man-stripe across the chest, like I did for my brothers' vests. Instead, I'll use a contrasting color stripe in the ribbing around the neckline, armholes, and bottom hem. Probably a green or blue. Yes, still not exciting. But it's my portable project, stockingnett in the round, so I don't look at it while knitting anyway.

Plus I'm begining to sew together Husband's afghan, using single crochet.

But I want to start something new! I only have 3 projects on the needles. That's got to be an all time low.

So I pulled out some of KF's quilting and knitting books. I want to make something using my stash and his motto of "When in doubt, add 20 more colors!." I have at least 5 skeins of Malabrigo in purple, blues, yellow, and green. In many of KF's patterns, he mixes colors by holding 2 strands together, or inserts one row randomly using a different color yarn. This adds another layer of color, in case 20 colors wasn't enough. Go look at his knitting and you'll know what I mean.

The Malabrigo is kettle dyed, meaning the yarn goes from light, medium, and dark within the same skein. So I'd get the color mixing without having to work so hard.

So I'm leaning towards making a shawl using KF's Super Triangles motif. As he said in his talk, it uses a ton of colors, but you're knitting with only 2 colors per row. So I'm thinking a shawl using different colors every row, leaving the loose ends out as fringe.

Some people hate the Atlanta traffick. I use it to daydream about knitting, quilting, and pottery.